Some of the most dangerous jobs with high workforce fatality rates include the fishing, logging, airline, electrical, trucking, and farming industries – just to name a few. But, unfortunately, oil and gas workers with jobs in certain parts of the world also face dangers every day. These dangers aren’t from potential missteps or human errors during the exploration or the production process. These dangers have absolutely nothing to do with the work itself. It comes from gangsters wanting to make their presence known with bloodshed in Mexico. In spite of the presence of military and federal police, workers for US and Mexican energy companies have been assaulted, extorted, or murdered, according to an article published in the San Francisco Chronicle. Lately, feuding factions of the Zetas gang have been wreaking havoc as they fend off rivals and battle among themselves. The situation could worsen, further threatening development of shale gas reserves. Top leaders of the Zetas, called one of the most fearsome gangs in Mexico, have been feuding with a rival in the western state of Zacatecas, the newspaper reported. That rival supposedly has teamed up with members of other gangs in an attempt to take control of Coahuila state, where most of the shale gas reserves are located. The activity could impede work by Pemex, which already has enough challenges to overcome as it works toward continuing to reverse declining oil production, improving its reserve replacement rate, and making progress with two recently announced major deepwater Gulf of Mexico finds that have given the company something to boast about. But dealing with gang violence apparently is nothing new for Pemex. “Petroleos Mexicanos (Pemex) has problems with security ... principally in Burgos,” Guillermo Dominguez, a senior member of the National Hydrocarbons Commission, told the Mexico City newspaper Reforma. Up to 20% of Mexico’s natural gas comes from the Burgos basin. Figures presented in the Chronicle show a stark contrast of drilling activity in the Eagle Ford shale play in Texas compared to shale gas drilling by Pemex in Mexico. There are more than 500 production wells on the Texas side of the Eagle Ford with about 6,000 drilling permits issued, compared to five drilled exploratory shale gas wells by Pemex, which has plans to drill 170 more in the next four years. A lack of technological expertise and funding have no doubt negatively impacted Pemex’s progress among a myriad of other issues including politics. You could probably add gang violence to that list. I don’t know how much of a role it has played in hampering E&P efforts, but apparently it has caused concerns that should be better addressed. How? I wish I had the answer. Aside from the obvious – moving workers out of harm’s way when possible based on intergovernmental communication when available, beefing up military security in problematic areas is one action to take. Other possible actions include backing initiatives that better prepare troops to fight against cartels, supporting stronger penalties for corrupt law enforcement officers, and participating in programs that help steer youth away from such activities. Providing workers personal safety gear and perhaps training also could prove beneficial. That stated, not all dangers can be eliminated. Anyone can fall victim to violence at anytime. Thousands of people have already lost their lives to gang violence in Mexico. The problem wasn’t created overnight, and it certainly won’t be solved overnight. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at